Claudia Overstreet





Claudia Overstreet does periodical workshops in her small town of Hartford, KY where she lives with her wife and son. She also creates her own pieces at her in-home studio. Claudia is known for her Earthenware Fingerprint pieces, where fingerprints with glaze are used to create the design.





Interview with Claudia Overstreet

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m from a small town on the Tennessee/Kentucky state line, achieved my BFA from Watkins College of Art Design & Film in 2009 in Nashville, TN, and now reside in Hartford, KY, with my wife and son. I taught ceramics professionally in Nashville, but I now teach periodical workshops and create my own work from my studio at home. Life is more low-key in this tiny town, and we like it that way.

What drew you towards working with ceramics?

I have always been a more 3D-oriented artist. Like all good daughters, I facetiously blame my dad, who is a wood worker and contractor. When I was born he was working for a clock factory, and I’ve watched or helped him build clocks, furniture, and even things like dulcimers, my whole life. With ceramics I feel I’m making something from nothing. It can be “needy” and requires careful planning, and I’m “wired” to cater to those needs. What I love most about ceramics is the variety of clays and approaches. It’s a very versatile art and so much can be done with the same medium—from colorful majolica earthenware to subtractive sculpture to primitive pit-firing to transparent porcelain. Creating with clay is infinite!

How do Mayco glazes and products fit into your work?

I primarily fire cone 6 electric and I love that Mayco colors, particularly the stoneware lines, are “easy-on” and with little to no runniness. I don’t have to stress with the application or worry about ruining my shelves. I’m careful with the “bits” in glazes like Midnight Rain, but otherwise love how they layer well and make it, again, EASY. Other products like the Stroke & Coats and Designer Liners are also great when I teach workshops, because the students don’t have to have a lot of experience or excessive technical instruction to easily use those products.

Can you describe your production process?
I’m a handbuilder. I roll slabs and use a lot of templates and molds. I love texture and can never settle on color. I love a lot of color! However, with this particular project, I was asked to fill in where someone else was no longer available, and on short notice! So I very quickly got the bisqueware ordered. Once they arrived, with a basic graphite pencil, I drew the requested designs for each piece (the school had done this project/fundraiser before so they had a list of fun ideas, like fish, frogs, rockets, balloons, candy, a watermelon, etc). I tweaked a few of her ideas, but not many. Any I tweaked were only for ease of the process or to speed up the process. For example, in the past, for the turkey/thanksgiving themed dish, they did multiple small turkeys scattered across the dish, and the kids’ fingerprints were the body of the many turkeys. Instead, I simply did one larger turkey and had the kids’ fingerprints as its feathers. Essentially since they’d done these dishes before, they seem to know what had sold well in the past in their silent auction at said fundraiser. Next I got them to the teacher who had the students place their fingerprints, with the Stoke & Coats I also ordered, on each piece. (I was able to order a lot of colors for them to choose from, in the small bottles! For their plethora of color needs, since each dish theme was different, that was a great perk!)
Once the kids did their part, the teacher returned them to me, and my task was to finish decorating. I added fish fins, wrappers around the candy, antlers to things like reindeer, and so on. There were a few that I had painted in advance, like the watermelon piece. It was painted red, so they only had to add fingerprints as “seeds.” One piece was called “Offical Cookie Testers,” so I used the color Rawhide as a cookie-shape and the kids’ fingerprints were added over the cookie-shape I had painted, to be as M&Ms or chocolate chips in the cookie. Since I knew the Stroke & Coats go over one another with little to no bleed, that made finishing those particular pieces a breeze.
The most tedious pieces were the four for the kindergarten classes. “When I Grow Up…” For those the students were to simply fingerprint their “heads,” and I made their fingerprints into whatever they wanted to be when they grow up. So I had a list. When you have to make a stick-figure “cave diver,” “circus trainer,” “SWAT team” member, “ocean doctor” (I assume they meant marine biologist), and a half dozen police officers and firefighters, you will find yourself a bit amazed at the ambitions of five year olds—to put it lightly. I literally don’t think I could have done it without Mayco products! I squirted the Stroke & Coats on a mini paint palette tray and “went to town” so to speak. The 9 colors I had of Designer Liners, added even more detail I couldn’t have done with just brushing on glaze. Once I got a coat of clear glaze over everything, I put them in the kiln and celebrated. Every one of them came out perfectly!!! So finally… I celebrated AGAIN!
How do you come up with the creative design ideas?
These 28 dishes were all ideas from previously made dishes for this annual event, so the PTO organizers gave me their list and I went off of their instructions. Matter of fact, they don’t really know me, but they knew my wife and came to me through her. Clearly they put a lot of trust in me to help them get these made. Pinterest may have inspired them to an extent, but I just knew this fundraiser was important and they needed an artist. Luckily I was familiar with what would make it work. I have worked at a ceramics supply warehouse (MidSouth Ceramics, in Nashville, TN) and have taught at a center for adults with special needs. Between those two places I learned a lot about easily adapting with tools at hand, or not at hand, and enhancing work sold to the public. And again, decorating bisqueware was NOT part of my “wheel-house.” I primarily handbuild cone 6 stoneware. But I did it, and the teachers said the final products I helped with this year were the best they had ever had, so I definitely see more of this in my future.


Can you tell us about any upcoming classes/workshops?

I spend November and December creating Christmas gifts either for my clients or my own friends and family, and I tend to take January off to read and relax and get re-inspired, so as of right now, I don’t have any workshops planned but almost always have something going in March or April. Any announcements are made from my Instagram, Facebook, and website.

Projects by Claudia Overstreet